11/6/13

CITY HUNTER - REVIEW


Based on the classic manga (and the anime series) of the same name, City Hunter was a Hong Kong comedy starring Jackie Chan. Made in 1993, it tried to stay true to the spirit of the manga while being very much a Chan comedy.

The result was a very, very silly flick which certainly felt like a Jackie Chan film but not so much like a City Hunter film. For one thing, Chan looks nothing like the character and, as good as he is in this, it's impossible to picture him as the young, tall, broad-shouldered hunk Ryo Saeba's meant to be so you just have to accept him as Jackie Chan. The plot also takes liberties to say the least, despite its very simplistic good guys vs bad guys storyline. Whereas the anime had very much a dark, film noir tone with its moody visuals and cool soundtrack, this City Hunter looks very 90's and goes for purely generic slapstick action comedy antics, nothing special. I mean, as a cartoonish comedy, it's a fun film, don't get me wrong. I do like a lot of the jokes in this movie and some of its scenes are just classic. You've got the famous Street Fighter II scene (see below) where Jackie Chan turns into Chun-Li and Honda before fighting Gary Daniels, who is dressed-up like Ken, the bit where Jackie Chan learns how to fight from a Bruce Lee film that's playing in a cinema, a gambler who throws cards Gambit-style, a nutty musical performance and tons of random, epic fight scenes full of the usual crazy stunt-work you expect from a Jackie Chan film.

Jackie Chan plays the character of Ryo Saeba as an occasionally badass, occasionally clumsy, overeager bachelor perv, which works rather well. Joey Wong plays his assistant/love interest Kaori and, although she does a good job with the slapstick aspect and gets to knock out Ryo with a big mallet a couple of times, she also looks nothing like the character. She comes off as way girlier and clumsier than she should have probably been and, I gotta admit, I do miss the short hair. The film introduces a whole bunch of characters, including Kaori's idiotic cousin, a terrorist mastermind called Donald Mac (aka Mac Donald) and Shizuko, a businessman's daughter, who is the person Ryo Saeba is meant to be finding. The plot sees Saeba try to recover Shizuko but they all find themselves aboard a cruise which just happens to be packed with a gang of foreign terrorists (foreign as in white people). Of course, Saeba proceeds to somehow save the day after countless fights and explosions. Like I said, the film is enjoyably goofy and, as a comedy, it's definitely entertaining. Jackie Chan is as good as ever and everyone looks like they're having the time of their lives. Unfortunately, it's nowhere near what a City Hunter live-action film could and should be and it's pretty hard to even reconcile the film with what it's based on.

Jackie Chan fans will have a ball with City Hunter: it's good old-fashioned martial arts cartoon fun. Lots of great action and memorable scenes in there. It's a little too silly at times and the amount of people killed or nearly sexually abused in the film is kinda distracting, especially since it takes that stuff super lightly but overall, it's an enjoyable, harmless enough watch.

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